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The Rose Inn, Wickhambreaux: Kent’s Best Kept Secret

Off the beaten track and nestled amongst impressive country properties, The Rose Inn is your quintessential English pub. Located at the heart of Wickhambreaux; a delightful small village just a few miles to the East of Canterbury, the pub itself looks out over a small green, a picture postcard location, the sort of place you might imagine a Jane Austen novel to be situated.

My fellow diner and I visited this little gem on a sun-drenched Saturday lunchtime where we were warmly welcomed and swiftly served. I opted for the ultra-local (pressed just a mile or two down the road) Kentish Pip High Diver, a crisp and refreshing cider. While my friend enjoyed Northdown Brewery’s Dune Buggy, a hazy, hoppy beer. The wine menu also features a generous selection of local wines from vineyards just a stone’s throw away.

The Rose Inn is just what I would hope for in an English pub; charming and traditional, with understated décor, the ancient beams laden with hops and natural wooden tables finished with dried grasses and seed heads. We chose to take shelter from the midday sun and ate lunch in the cool interior. Clearly also popular with the locals, we happily spotted that well-behaved furry friends were also welcome in the pub.

My fellow diner, being quite fastidious about napkins was pleased to see real fabric gracing the table. I was also happy to note that a carafe of water and glasses were duly brought to the table without being asked for. It is small gestures like this which are largely forgotten in many establishments but really make the difference between a good experience and a fantastic experience.

Skilled chef and publican Billy Stock took the reins to The Rose Inn in 2021, having honed his craft in some of London’s top restaurants. Mostly working solo in the kitchen; Billy creates dishes which celebrate the very best of seasonal, local produce, with much of the food from within just a few miles. Billy changes the menu every day, sometimes twice a day to make the most of the produce to hand at the time.

No well-handled pages or sticky leatherbound menus to be found here, instead written on the blackboard above the fireplace, we were taken through the lunchtime options by knowledgeable staff. The menu on the day we visited consisted of a few familiar light bites such as Welsh Rarebit or a bowl of chips and for the more adventurous foodies; plates of Braised Snails & Bacon on Toast or Rabbit Sobrassada, Cornichons & Toast and for those with a good appetite a Half Rotisserie of Chicken.

We enjoyed a selection of light bites and shared them between us, the highlight being the Whipped Cod’s Roe & Hens Egg on Toast, the silky-smooth and salty cod’s roe complemented by a rich, creamy perfectly poached egg. We also shared the Pea & Parmesan on Toast, which really was the essence of summer with a vibrant (almost luminous green) sweet garden pea puree atop a fresh crusty slice of toast. We then devoured the Welsh Rarebit which held a good, strong flavour, and was a wonderful match for the High Diver cider. Somehow, we also made room for the Beer Battered Salt Pollock with Tartare Sauce, a light crispy batter enveloping chunks of the meaty local fish.

Pistachio Crème Brûlée or Plum & Almond Tart were the dessert options on the blackboard, we plumped for the Crème Brûlée and were not disappointed. A crisp, crunchy, sugary blanket revealed below a genuine pistachio flavour (the likes of which can only be matched by some of the desserts I’ve had in Italy).

Having thoroughly enjoyed the food, I can’t wait to go back, either for a lunchtime stop off with friends or to explore the evening menu. Billy Stock’s menu focusses on quality local produce, fish from Hastings and meat from the local butcher, not overly elaborate but instead allowing the food to do the talking… The Rose Inn is simplicity perfected.

The Rose Inn, Wickhambreaux

Light bites start from a very reasonable £7 a plate, while the Rotisserie Chicken was nearer £20, and the desserts were £8 each. Sundays feature a traditional Sunday roast. Opening times are Wednesday to Saturday from 12pm to 10pm and Sunday 12pm to 4pm. For more information or to book a table visit www.theroseinn.pub


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